News Briefing: 30 May 2022

Rising global temperatures have accelerated the growth of the Batagaika Crater in Siberia, which is the largest permafrost landslide in the world. This “Gateway to the Underworld” crater is more than 86 meters deep and 1 kilometer wide. It formed several decades ago when abrupt permafrost thaw collapsed the land and produced a massive hole. Every year, this crater expands 10 to 30 meters deeper into the soil. As temperatures rise, the intensity of droughts and the frequency of wildfires increase across Siberia. When these fires burn through the protective vegetation above permafrost, the soils below experience rаpid warming аnd thawing for years to decades. These compounding factors have accelerated the erosion of previously frozen permafrost soils, deepening the Batagaika Crater. As the crater continues to expand, it destabilizes the surrounding area, and releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from its frozen permafrost. Reducing human emissions to fulfill the 1.5°C limit of the Paris Agreement will reduce the vulnerability of Siberia to devastating wildfires and slow the thaw of, and emissions from permafrost, while helping local communities adapt to a changing climate.